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Martin McHugh hosting event in Leitrim on Saturday

Former Leitrim goalkeeper Martin McHugh.

Former Leitrim goalkeeper Martin McHugh.

Leitrim’s 1994 Connacht winning goalkeeper, Martin McHugh, is hosting a special event entitled ‘Let’s Talk About Cancer’ in the Landmark Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon, tomorrow. Saturday April 13th, from 10.00am to 1.15pm.

The two-time cancer survivor chose April – world Testicular Cancer Awareness Month – to stimulate some important conversations on the topic of cancer with some very special guests, including his Leitrim manager in 1994 John O’Mahony, who also steered Galway to two All-Ireland titles in 1998 and 2001, Meath legend Sean Boylan, and Oisin McKiernan, Cavam footballer. All three are cancer survivors.

Back in 2009, McHugh was living in Newtownforbes in Longford and playing for the local club Clonguish when he found a lump in his groin. It was eventually diagnosed as testicular cancer. (Testicular cancer is the leading cancer among young men aged 15 to 34 years old, with over 100,000 men being diagnosed with the disease each year.) He found himself back in the fight in 2015 when he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer, but thankfully it was caught early and he made a quick recovery after having the prostrate removed.

There were some dark days, which McHugh outlines in his memoir ‘Born to Save’, along with the details of his remarkable return to football and the winning of a Leitrim Intermediate Championship with his club Aughnasheelin in 2017.

“At my lowest point after my third round of chemo I was so sick. It's very hard to explain how sick I was. I was just so, so low in energy that I didn't want anyone near me. I didn't want to talk to anybody. I was thinking, just give me the keys to the pearly gates of heaven,” Martin explained to GAA.ie. But the GAA offered him some light at the end of the tunnel and vitally, broadened his world when cancer threatened to narrow it.

The guest of honour at the launch of McHugh memoir in 2022 was John O’Mahony, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2020. His fellow panellist at tomorrow’s ‘Let’s Talk About Cancer’ event, Sean Boylan, is a prostate cancersurvivor. Cavan footballer, Oisin Kiernan, represents the generation of young men most at risk to testicular cancer, and garnered much praise for his awareness raising following his diagnosis and recovery from the disease in 2018. Other contributors include Dr Declan Loftus, GP and doctor for the Leitrim senior football team in 1994, and Caroline Currid, sports and performance psychologist who has worked with All Ireland winning teams including most recently the Limerick hurlers but also the Dublin and Tyrone footballers.

As part of the GAA’s partnership with Movember, the leading men's health organisation, both organisations are urging the young men of Ireland to take action this April, Testicular Cancer Awareness month. 62% of those who are most at risk don’t know how to check themselves for the risks. It’s important young men get to know what’s normal for them, to know the signs to look for and, if something is found, to go see a doctor. When caught early, testicular cancer is highly treatable and highly curable. Despite this fact, many men still feel uncomfortable discussing or examining their own bodies. The GAA and Movember aims to change this by encouraging men to prioritize their health and follow the simple and potentially life-saving act below.

The Movember How-To-Guide For Checking Your Pair:

Step 1: Steam - a warm, steamy shower helps your nuts relax.

Step 2: Roll - roll one nut between thumb and fingers and check any changes or anything painful.

Step 3: Repeat - the same goes for the other nut.

Men should perform regular checks for any changes in size, shape, or texture, as well as any pain, discomfort, or lumps. If something just feels wrong or unusual, don't jump to conclusions about what it means. Instead, take action and see your doctor. Don’t wait around. Every testicle is unique, get to know yours this Testicular Cancer Awareness Month.

For more information visit: www.nutsandbolts.movember.co